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Association between road traffic noise and incidence of diabetes mellitus and hypertension in Toronto Canada: a population‐based cohort study

Shin S, Bai L, Oiamo TH, Burnett RT, Weichenthal S, Jerrett M, Kwong JC, Goldberg MS, Copes R, Kopp A, Chen H. J Am Heart Assoc. 2020; 9(6):e013021. Epub 2020 Mar 9. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1161/JAHA.119.013021


Background — Exposure to road traffic noise has been linked to cardiometabolic complications, such as elevated blood pressure and glucose dysregulation. However, epidemiologic evidence linking road traffic noise to diabetes mellitus and hypertension remains scarce. We examined associations between road traffic noise and the incidence of diabetes mellitus and hypertension in Toronto, Canada.

Methods and Results — Using the Ontario Population Health and Environment Cohort, we conducted a retrospective, population‐based cohort study of long‐term residents of Toronto, aged 35 to 100 years, who were registered for provincial publicly funded health insurance, and were without a history of hypertension (n=701 174) or diabetes mellitus (n=914 607). Road traffic noise exposure levels were assessed by the equivalent continuous A‐weighted sound pressure level (dBA) for the 24‐hour day and the equivalent continuous A‐weighted sound pressure level for the night (11 pm–7am). Noise exposures were assigned to subjects according to their annual residential postal codes during the 15‐year follow‐up. We used random‐effect Cox proportional hazards models adjusting for personal and area‐level characteristics. From 2001 to 2015, each interquartile range increase in the equivalent continuous A‐weighted sound pressure level (dBA) for the 24‐hour day (10.0 dBA) was associated with an 8% increase in incident diabetes mellitus (95% CI, 1.07–1.09) and a 2% increase in hypertension (95% CI, 1.01–1.03). We obtained similar estimates with the equivalent continuous A‐weighted sound pressure level for the night (11 pm–7am). These results were robust to all sensitivity analyses conducted, including further adjusting for traffic‐related air pollutants (ultrafine particles and nitrogen dioxide). For both hypertension and diabetes mellitus, we observed stronger associations with the equivalent continuous A‐weighted sound pressure level (dBA) for the 24‐hour day among women and younger adults (aged <60 years).

Conclusions — Long‐term exposure to road traffic noise was associated with an increased incidence of diabetes mellitus and hypertension in Toronto.

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